What a Trump victory would mean for Egypt
Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:28

Public opinion polls in the US currently indicate that Hillary Clinton stands the highest chance of winning the presidential election, but no one can rule out the possibility of her Republican rival, Donald Trump, gaining a surprise victory.

The political climate which caused the majority of Brits to vote in favor of leaving the EU last week is similar to the political climate in North America; a climate in which dissatisfaction with the economic situation, fear of immigrants and terrorism, the upholding of nationalism and mistrust of the traditional political elite prevail. These are ideas capitalized on by Trump's campaign.

With a long way to go until the outcome of the election, minds are turning to the implications of a Trump administration for Egypt.

What would a victory for Trump mean for Egypt?

Many of Trump's remarks in fact fall in line with the Egyptian state's current position. The presumptive Republican nominee has said that under him, the fight against terrorism, or what he called "Islamic radicalism", would become one of America's foreign policy objectives for the world, giving priority to the use of military force against terrorism. Obama and Clinton, on the other hand, have expressed reservations on this matter.

Trump has said that the fight against terrorism is both a philosophical and an intellectual issue, as was the question of communism during the Cold War. He has stressed the importance of cooperation with the countries in danger of radical Islam.

Not only this, but Trump's administration promises to focus on stability rather than being driven by a program of change, democracy and human rights for Egypt and the Middle East. He proposes to adopt a tougher stance toward political Islam, while a Clinton administration would continue with the integration of Islamists into Arab political systems.

In his foreign policy speech of 27 April, Trump said, "We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obama’s line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions has helped to throw the region into chaos, and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy."

With these things in mind, it may begin to look like Trump would be the best candidate for protecting Egypt's interests and even improving bilateral ties. Arguably, Trump's administration could be more sympathetic to the Egyptian stance on internal political issues, cooperating in fighting terrorism, and potentially renegotiating restrictions placed by Obama on US military aid to Egypt.

But there are two problems with this theory:

Firstly, Trump's racist remarks about Muslims throws into doubt the possibility of improving ties, and in addition to this, his regional policy will place pressure on Egypt as he seeks to pursue a harder line with Saudi Arabia and Iran. He also believes his proposed policy on Israel would be the key to resolving the issues and tensions in the region. He has also said US allies — which would include Egypt — will pay a high price for their alliance with America; a price whose nature and limits we cannot say.

Secondly, regardless of whether Trump or Hillary takes victory, we must acknowledge that the circumstances in which the bilateral relationship between Egypt and America was established in the late seventies are no longer as they were. The situation has undergone enormous change, rendering our relationship in its current form incompatible for the future.

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